Roy Morgan has simultaneously unloaded two sets of polling figures, as it does from time to time. The regular fortnightly face-to-face poll, conducted over the previous two weekends from a sample of 1684, has Labor’s lead nudging up to 60-40 compared with 59.5-40.5 at the previous such poll. Both major parties are down 1.5 per cent on the primary vote Labor to 49.5 per cent, the Coalition to 34 per cent while the Greens are up from 7.5 per cent to 9 per cent. There is also a phone poll of 695 respondents conducted mid-week, which finds a slight majority favouring maintaining a balanced budget over vaguely defined alternative economic objectives. The poll has Labor’s lead on voting intention at 58-42 on two-party preferred and 46.5-37 on the primary vote. The Greens are on 10.5 per cent.
Plenty happening on the electoral front, not least the finalisation of the federal redistribution for Queensland. This offers a few surprises, and may be a rare occasion where a major party’s submission has actually had an effect. Two changes in particular were broadly in line with the wishes of the Liberal National Party, which marshalled a considerable weight of media commentary to argue that the Coalition had been hard done by. As always, Antony Green has crunched the numbers: all estimated margins quoted herein are his.
Most interestingly, the changes to Dickson that sent Peter Dutton scurrying for refuge have been partly reversed. As the LNP submission requested, the electorate has recovered the rural area along Dayboro Road and Woodford Road that it was set to lose to Longman. However, only a small concession was made to the LNP’s request that the troublesome Kallangur area be kept out of the electorate. The electoral impact is accordingly slight, clipping the notional Labor margin from 1.3 per cent to 1.0 per cent. Peter Dutton is nonetheless sufficiently encouraged that he’s indicating he might yet stand and fight or less charitably, he’s found a pretext to get out of the corner he had backed himself into. Labor has received a corresponding boost in its marginal seat of Longman, where Jon Sullivan’s margin has been cut from 3.6 per cent at the election to 1.7 per cent, instead of the originally proposed 1.4 per cent.
Major changes to Petrie and Wayne Swan’s seat of Lilley have largely been reversed. It had been proposed to eliminate Petrie’s southern dog-leg by adding coastal areas from Shorncliffe and Deagon north to Brighton from Lilley, which would be compensated with Petrie’s southern leg of suburbs from Carseldine south to Stafford Heights. The revised boundaries have eliminated the former transfer and limited the latter to south of Bridgeman Downs. Where the original proposal gave Labor equally comfortable margins in both, the revision gives Wayne Swan 8.8 per cent while reducing Yvette D’Ath to an uncomfortable 4.2 per cent. Retaining Shorncliffe, Deagon and Brighton in Lilley had been advocated in the LNP submission. Almost-local observer Possum concurs, saying the revised boundaries better serve local communities of interest.
South of Brisbane and inland of the Gold Coast, changes have been made to the boundary between Forde and the new electorate of Wright, with a view to consolidating the rural identity of the latter. Forde gains suburban Boronia Heights and loses an area of hinterland further south, extending from suburban Logan Village to rural Jimboomba. Labor’s margin in Forde has increased from 2.4 per cent to 3.4 per cent, and the Coalition’s in Wright is up from 3.8 per cent to 4.8 per cent.
Little remains of a proposed northward shift of the boundary between Kennedy and Leichhardt from the Mitchell River to the limits of Tablelands Regional council. Kennedy will now only gain an area around Mount Molloy, 150 kilometres north-west of Cairns. Its boundary with Dawson has also been tidied through the expansion of a transfer from Dawson south of Townsville, aligning it with the Burdekin River. None of the three seats’ margins has changed.
Maranoa has gained the area around Wandoan from Flynn, making the boundary conform with Western Downs Regional Council. This boosts Labor’s margin in Flynn from 2.0 per cent to 2.3 per cent, compared with 0.2 per cent at the election.
Three minor adjustments have been made to the boundary between the safe Liberal Sunshine Coast seats of Fisher and Fairfax, allowing the entirety of Montville to remain in Fisher.
The Financial Review’s Mark Skulley reported on Wednesday that the federal government was moving quickly to get its electoral reform package into shape. Labor is said to be offering a deal: if the Liberals drop their opposition to slashing the threshold for public disclosure of donations (which the Coalition and Steve Fielding voted down in March), the government will include union affiliation fees in a ban on donations from corporations, third parties and associated entities. Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald says the New South Wales branch of the ALP alone receives $1.3 million in revenue a year from the fees, which unions must pay to send delegates to party conferences. According to Skulley, many union leaders fear a Rudd plot to Blairise the party by weakening union ties, with Coorey naming the ACTU and Victorian unions as most hostile. It is further reported that the parties propose to cover the foregone revenue by hiking the rate of public funding. VexNews understands that an increase from $2.24 per vote to $10 is on the cards, potentially increasing the total payout from $49 million to $200 million. The site says Westpac currently has a formal claim over Labor’s public funding payout after the next election, as the party is currently $8 million in debt. The Liberals are said to be keen because they’re having understandable trouble raising funds at the moment. A further amendment proposes to restrict political advertising by third parties. As well as being stimulating politically, some of these moves might be difficult constitutionally.
A proposed referendum on reform to the South Australian Legislative Council has been voted down in said chamber. The referendum would have been an all-or-nothing vote to change terms from a staggered eight years to an unstaggered four, reduce its membership from 22 to 16, allow a deliberative rather than a casting vote for the President and establish a double dissolution mechanism to resolve deadlocks. Another bill amending the Electoral Act has been passed, although it will not take effect until after the March election. A number of its measures bring the state act into line with the Commonwealth Electoral Act: party names like Liberals for Forests have been banned, provisions have been made for enrolment of homeless voters, and MPs will be able to access constituents’ dates of birth on the electoral roll (brace yourselves for presumptuous birthday greetings in the mail). The number of members required of a registered party has been increased from 150 to 200: if you’re wondering why they bothered, the idea was to hike it to 500 to make life difficult for the putative Save the Royal Adelaide Hospital party, but the government agreed to a half-measure that wouldn’t threaten the Nationals. Misleading advertising has also been introduced as grounds for declaring a result void if on the balance of probabilities it affected the result. The Council voted down attempts to ban corflute advertising on road sides and overturn the state’s unique requirement that how-to-vote cards be displayed in each polling compartment.
Deborah Morris of the Hastings Leader reports Helen Constas, chief executive of the Peninsula Community Legal Centre, has been preselected as Labor’s candidate for the south-eastern Melbourne federal seat of Dunkley, where Liberal member Bruce Billson’s margin was cut from 9.3 per cent to 4.0 per cent at the 2007 election. Constas was said to have had a convincing win in the local ballot. UPDATE: Andrew Crook of Crikey details Constas’s preselection as a win for the left born of disunity between the Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy forces of the Right; Right faction sources respond at VexNews.
The ABC reports that Nationals members in the state electorate of Dubbo have voted not to abandon their preselection privileges by being the guinea pig in the state party’s proposed open primary experiment. There is reportedly a more welcoming mood in Port Macquarie, which like Dubbo is a former Nationals seat that has now had consecutive independent members.